The Knights of Pythias Commencement No.7 is marking the fraternal order’s 150th birthday with an open house and movie screening at its landmark lodge, at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at 924 Broadway.
The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization founded at Washington, DC, on Feb. 19, 1864 by Justus H. Rathbone and Abraham Lincoln as a way for the North and South to heal the wounds gained during the Civil War.
The order draws its name from the legend of Damon and Pythias that illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor and friendship that are the center of the order. The distinguishing principles of the Order of Knights of Pythias are "Friendship, Charity and Benevolence.” At its highest, the non-denominational, non-political fraternal society was the third largest fraternal order in America, behind the Masons and the Oddfellows. It and its Pythian Sisters groups currently number more than 2,000 lodges around the world, with a total membership of about 50,000.
The Pythian Temple, built in 1906 was designed by noted Tacoma architect Frederick Heath, who was also a member of the lodge. The facility is listed on the national and local historical registry because is largely remains intact as it was built more than a century ago. Its roster of members include the who’s who of Tacoma’s history, from mayors, lawmakers, police chiefs and business tycoons. The lodge space is currently a host to First Night events as well as a handful of community activities throughout the year as well as weekly lodge meetings.
During the open house, visitors will have a chance to tour the facility and learn its history as well as view the 1962 classic “Damon and Pythias.”
The movie follows the story of Pythias, a liberal Athenian who believes all men are brothers, only to find himself condemned to death by Dionysus, the tyrant of Syracuse. Dionysus, however, allows Pythias to return to Athens to visit his ailing wife with the understanding he will then come back to face his punishment. Damon, a friend of Pythias, volunteers to be a hostage to guarantee Pythias's return. Dionysius doesn't expect Pythias to keep his end of the bargain, thus exposing the falsity of his beliefs, but Pythias proves to be a man of his word.
The movie stars Guy Williams, who was coming off his successes as Walt Disney’s Zorro in both television and movies and would go on to play the role of John Robinson in the Sci Fi classic “Lost in Space.”
While donations will be accepted, the tours and movie screening are free and open to the public. More information can be found at Facebook.com/TacomaPythians. Tours of the Castle Hall will be held between 6 and when the movie starts at 7 p.m.